The Austrian Society for Eighteenth Century Studies

 2 The members of the ÖGE 18 in 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2009

The first register of members in Volume 1 of the 1983 published yearbook “Das Achtzehnte Jahrhundert. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts” contains 48 representatives of various disciplines such as musicology, social and economical history, literature, Romance studies, Jewish studies, etc. Except of ten members coming from other cities in Austria and from outside of Austria[15], all other members lived and worked mainly in Vienna. By the end of Csáky’s presidency in 1989 the members almost tripled to 140 members[16], of whom at least 45% were not stationed in Vienna, but in other Austrian cities or in other countries like Romania, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, England, France, USA, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia. Regarding members from the Warsaw Pact states the ÖGE 18 could count from the beginning one Hungarian among its members. In 1985 one Bulgarian, another Hungarian, and one from Yugoslavia, in 1986 one Romanian, and one Hungarian, and in 1987 two Hungarian joined the society. Then in 1989, including the new entries in this year, there were all in all eight Hungarian, two Romanian, one Bulgarian, one from Czechoslovakia and one from Yugoslavia member of the society.

In 1992 161 members (embracing now two institutional members) were listed in the last published register of members in Volume 7/8 of the yearbook[17]. Almost as many international as not in Vienna living members were in the society (see Graph 1). Ten years after foundation the ratio of Vienna based members and outside of Vienna living changed from 1:4 to almost 1:1.


Graph 1: Geographical distribution of members in the years 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2009

At the outset membership of the Society was formalised and required the approval of the board members as well as general assembly.[18] When the management of the society changed in 1994, the constitution was altered insofar that without prior approval everybody (enclosing now students) could join the society who had a strong interest in the Eighteenth Century.[19] Although there did never exist a real strategy for recruitment (recruitment was done by selective approach by members of the society)[20], the board in 1996 decided to improve the communication and public awareness of the society by distributing more flyers[21] and by reducing the annual rate for students.[22]

In the promotion of membership and a lasting interest in the Eighteenth Century the introduction of a prize for excellent scholars of arts and humanities broke new ground in 2000. Supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research, the prize, awarded every second year, was named in memory of Emperor’s Francis Stephen of Lorraine special role as patron to science and art in and for „Austria“. The idea to name the prize after Francis Stephen of Lorraine is closely connected to the simultaneously presented Schallaburg exhibition „Lorraine’s heritage: Francis Stephen of Lorraine and his relevance for economics, science and art in the Habsburg Monarchy”, which was curated by the Francis Stephen of Lorraine expert and treasurer of the ÖGE 18 Renate Zedinger. In 2009 the prize was divided into two separate prizes. The Francis-Stephen-Prize of the History and Culture of the Habsburg Monarchy in the Eighteenth Century is awarded to Dissertations (post graduated theses) or Habilitations (post doctoral theses) or papers of equivalent importance about the Habsburg Monarchy of the Eighteenth Century. Language can be German, French or English as well as any language spoken in the former Habsburg Monarchy. For the first time the prize honoured a work of a French graduate of l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS): Claire Mádl’s dissertation “L’écrit, le livre et la pulicité. Les engagements d’un aristrocrate éclaire de Boheme: Franz Anton Hartig (1758-1797)”. The second prize, called Francis-Stephen-Promotion-Prize, goes to excellent theses on the level of Master-Degrees. The call for applications encourages all graduates in humanities whose work focus on the 18th century and had been approbated at an Austrian university.

In the final analysis of the members, however, all these measurements did not result in a noticeable increase of memberships. In 2002 even a drop of 15% can be noticed. The main cause lies in the loss of international members. This continues up to now. Among several reasons such as changing research fields the main one could be that between 1992 and now several new national societies[23] were founded and thus members changed their alliance. While in 1986 the international Eighteenth Century community contained sixteen national societies[24], in 1999 there were 32, and today ISECS counts 34 national societies (including the associated ones)[25] to its members. The ÖGE 18 has, as of December 17th, 2009, 152 members from 15 different countries. The majority (87 %) comes from Austria, and here especially from Vienna (54 %). In contrast to the geographical range of its activities, that more and more also include events in other major cities in Austria since Gunnar Hering’s presidency, it means in terms of memberships a stronger focus on Vienna.

[15] Alltogether there were representatives of five countries other than Austria: Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, Australia, and France.

[16] See ÖGE 18, Mitglieder 5, 77–86.

[17] See ÖGE 18, Mitglieder 7/8, 141–150.

[18] See ÖGE 18, Statuten, 10–12.

[19] See ÖGE board minutes from October 19th, 1995.

[20] Interview with Harald Heppner at the restaurant Zattl in Vienna on November 5th, 2009.

[21] See ÖGE 18 newsletter 1/1996.

[22] ibid.

[23] For example in 1991 Swiss Society; in 1992 the Bulgarian society; in 1994 the Icelandic society; in 1995 the Danish society; in 1996 the Polish society; in 1998 the Norwegian society; in 1999 the Czech Society; in 2001 the Finish society; the last society was the Slovene Society in 2007.

[24] See ÖGE 18, International, 85–86.

[25] See <> and <> (14.02.2010).

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